In the whole wide world of drinks, there’s nothing more intimidating to me than a sake menu. Staring at the thirty-six selections at Kushi Izakaya & Sushi, my brain usually goes blank. Add shochu and my head really spins. It may be the Japanese. At least I can bumble my way through a French wine list, but sake? Forget it. So when my WLDC partner-in-photographic-crime Max Cook and I had the chance to spend some time with their beverage director, George Young, to learn about sake, we jumped. Well, I jumped, Max loves sushi more than sake. But after just an hour reviewing the basics of production and sampling the menu, I felt much less intimidated and am now eager to explore more.
Luckily, George himself is newly converted to the joys of sake and proved the perfect host to de-mystify the nature of rice wine. Wait, let’s start with that phrase – sake isn’t actually “rice wine,” as wine implies production from fruit. Sake comes from rice, and therefore is considered its own category. But how does rice become sake? What’s the difference between those cloudy white liquids and the clear ones? And what about hot versus cold? George patiently explained it all for us. Continue reading